K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – Announcements regarding post-secondary education made by the Ontario Progressive Conservative government earlier this week will negatively affect students studying in Nova Scotia and threatens students’ right to organize.
Students receive assistance from their home province, so announced changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) impacts the hundreds of students from Ontario who come to study at Nova Scotian post-secondary institutions every year. Announced changes include:
The elimination of the 6-month grace period for interest-free loan repayment.
The elimination of the “Ontario Student Grant” program, a needs-based grant program for families making less than $50,000 a year.
Reducing the proportion of grants to loans for students with parental income is between $50,000 and $140,000.
“The Doug Ford government has attempted to spin this announcement as a 10% reduction in tuition fees at Ontario institutions, but students in Nova Scotia will experience no relief” says Aidan McNally, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia, “These changes will increase out-of-pocket costs for all students and those studying in Nova Scotia will now face some of the highest tuition fees in the country with even less support”.
The Ford government also announced the “Student Choice” initiative, which will allow students to opt-out of student fees that have been democratically decided upon. This has the potential to bankrupt student unions, campus groups, newspapers and student organizations. Students unions are independent, democratic organizations that advocate for students’ best interest and provide essential services. Unlike in British Colombia and Quebec, students in Nova Scotia have no legislative protections that enshrine their rights to form students’ unions and democratically represent their members.
“Ford’s attack on students’ rights to organize sets a terrifying precedent for students across the country,” says McNally. “These proposed changes are a thinly veiled attack on students’ unions and groups who hold administration and governments accountable and should be a concern to all.”
Students are united in our call for accessible post-secondary education across the country and will fight to defend student’s rights.
The Canadian Federation of Students represents over 500,000 post-secondary students from across the country.